Dinsmore Documentation presents Classics of American Colonial History
|Author:||Bruce, Philip A.|
|Title:||Economic History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century: An Inquiry into the Material Condition of the People, Based on Original and Contemporaneous Records.|
|Citation:||New York: MacMillan and Co., 1896|
|Subdivision:||Front Matter to Volume I|
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VIRGINIA IN THE SEVENTEENTH
AN INQUIRY INTO THE MATERIAL CONDITION OF
THE PEOPLE, BASED UPON ORIGINAL AND
PHILIP ALEXANDER BRUCE
Author of “The Plantation Negro as a Freeman,” and Corresponding Secretary of the Virginia Historical Society
MACMILLAN AND CO.
All rights reserved
By MACMILLAN AND CO.
ANNE BRUCE PAGE
THE BEAUTY OF WHOSE LIFE AND CHARACTER
THE PATHOS OF WHOSE EARLY DEATH
AND THE CALAMITY OF WHOSE IRREPARABLE LOSS
THE PASSAGE OF TIME
HAS ONLY SERVED TO IMPRESS MORE DEEPLY
UPON THE MINDS AND HEARTS OF
THOSE WHO LOVED HER
In studying the history of the Virginian people in the seventeenth century, apart from the course of events, it will be found that the general subject falls under the following heads.
I. Economic Condition. II. Social Life. III. Religious Establishment and Moral Influences. IV. Education. V. Military Regulations. VI. Administration of Justice. VII. Political System.
By following in minute detail the various ramifications of each of these special subjects, some offering a broader field for treatment than others, a perfectly complete account might be written of the state of the people of the Colony in that age. In the present work, I have confined myself very strictly to an investigation of their economic condition alone. Where this has encroached upon the boundary of any of the other divisions which I have named, I have, except in a few instances, refrained from pursuing the subject beyond that point. Thus, no references have been made to printing in Virginia in the seventeenth century and the degree to which books entered into the inventories of the planters’ estates, because such references, it appeared, would more properly come under the head of Education. For the same reason, the question as to how
far bricks were employed in the construction of church edifices in that age has not been touched upon at length in the description of the use of this material in houses, because it seemed to be more consistent to include it under the head of the Religious Establishment. For the same reason, also the scope of taxation and the powers of the vestries have only been dwelt upon incidentally to facts relating directly to the economic condition of the people. A full account of both would with more fitness be given under the head of the Political System. Similar limitations, but in no instance of special importance, will be observed in other branches of the subject, as treated in this work.
The overwhelming mass as well as the extraordinary variety of the matter which enters into the economic history of Virginia in the Colonial Age are clearly shown in my own experience in approaching the subject. I began with the intention of writing an account of the economic condition of the Virginian people in the period between the Revolution and the late War. After investigation extending over several months, I perceived that it would be impossible to obtain a thorough understanding of this period, unless a careful examination was made of their economic condition in colonial times. Becoming very much interested in the study of the different economic aspects of that age, I determined to narrow the scope of my work to the interval between the foundation of Jamestown and the Declaration of Independence. As the course of my inquiry proceeded, the details relating to the subject grew into such volume that I was compelled to confine my attention to the seventeenth century; and even
with this restriction, the field under examination expanded to such an extent that it was only by condensing the material collected, as far as was possible, that the work has been kept within reasonable limits.
In the preparation of this work, I have had access to a great mass of original manuscripts which have never been used. for the same general purpose before. These manuscripts include the nine large folio volumes of Land Patents for the seventeenth century now in the office of the Register1 in the Capitol at Richmond, and the seventy-five or more volumes, both folio and quarto, of the records for the same period, of the counties of Henrico, York, Lower Norfolk, Elizabeth City, Surry, Middlesex, Lancaster, Rappahannock, Accomac, and Northampton. These volumes are kept in the clerk’s offices in the counties named. Copies of the records of Henrico, York, Rappahannock, Elizabeth City, and Surry have been made and deposited in the Virginia State Library,—a fact which is due to the success of Mr. Lyon G. Tyler, the President of the venerable William and Mary College, in securing from the Legislature an appropriation for that purpose. The very large collection of original manuscripts in the possession of the Virginia Historical Society relating to the same period—the Ludwell, Randolph, Byrd, and Fitzhugh, and also the General Court MSS. covering the interval between 1670 and 1676, together with transcripts of a varied mass of records belonging to the same century, made by or at the instance of the late Conway Robinson, Esq.—have been of very great use to me. In the Virginia
1 The legal title of this officer is Register, not Registrar, of the Land Office.
State Library are preserved the Winder, MacDonald, and Sainsbury Papers, twenty-two quarto volumes, containing either exact copies or very full abstracts of all the documents in the British Public Record Office relating to the same century. In the same depository are the Reports of the Royal Historical Manuscripts Commission, and the Calendar of Virginia State Papers, the earlier volumes of which, edited with great care and learning by Dr. William P. Palmer, throw the most important light on the Colonial Age. Mr. Alexander Brown’s noble collection of private and public documents in his Genesis of the United States, a collection which will always be a monument to his patience, industry, and scholarship; the Works of Captain John Smith as edited by Professor Arber; and the Abstracts of Proceedings of the Virginia Company of London,1 published by the Virginia Historical Society, have furnished me invaluable information in the investigation of the condition of the people in the first decades of the century. Largely owing to the scholarly care of Mr. Charles Poindexter, late State Librarian, the collection of tracts bearing upon the history of Virginia throughout that whole period, now in the State Library at Richmond, is one of the most complete to be found in this country, and upon this collection I have drawn to very great advantage. A complete list of all the authorities used in the preparation of this work, with the special editions consulted, will be found appended.
An exhaustive chronological history of Virginia in the Colonial Age has never been written, and this is also true
1 These Abstracts were prepared by the late Conway Robinson, Esq., from Vols. I and II of the Randolph MSS., now in possession of the Virginia Historical Society.
of the period that has elapsed since the creation of the State. There are several biographies of Virginian statesmen of the era of the Revolution, written by Virginians, which reflect very high honor upon American historical scholarship; notably Kate Mason Rowland’s Life of George Mason, William Wirt Henry’s Life of Patrick Henry, and William C. Rives’s Life of James Madison. No attempt, however, previous to the present has been made to describe the purely economic condition of the Virginian people in detail. To undertake the task, although its scope was to be confined to the survey of a single century, was to assume the part of a pioneer. I shall feel fully rewarded for the labor, thought, and time expended in the present work if the only result accomplished by it shall be to direct the attention of zealous and discriminating scholars to a field marked by the most extraordinary wealth of matter, interesting in itself and of far-reaching importance in its relation to the subsequent history, not only of Virginia, but also of the United States.
In conclusion, it only remains for me to express my appreciation of the kindness of my brother, Professor James Douglas Bruce of Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania, in reading and assisting me to correct my manuscript. I am also indebted to him for warm encouragement in the course of my investigations, and for unvarying interest in the progress of my work.
PHILIP A. BRUCE.
Virginia Historical Society Building,
Richmond, Va. Sept. 1, 1895.
|Reasons for the Colonization of Virginia||1|
|Aboriginal Virginia: Its Physical Character||71|
|Aboriginal Virginia: Indian Economy||140|
|Agricultural Development, 1607-1624||189|
|Agricultural Development, 1624-1650||276|
|Agricultural Development, 1650-1685||345|
|Agricultural Development, 1685-1700||424|
|Acquisition of Title to Land: The Patent||487|
|System of Labor: The Servant||672|
Dinsmore Documentation presents Classics of American Colonial History